Len Ashurst says Sam Allardyce should be given the England job and allowed to manage the country in his own style.
Former Sunderland player and manager Ashurst, who also watched the club’s games as a referee’s assessor, says Allardyce is just what the national side needs right now.
And although he knows it is unlikely to make him popular with Black Cats’ fans, Ashurst says England’s need right now is greater than Sunderland’s.
“I’m a big admirer of Sam’s and the qualities he brings to management,” Ashurst told the Echo.
“I don’t think he has a weakness in his armoury as a manager and he excels in terms of motivation, organisation and attention to detail - arguably the most important areas England need to address.
“And England certainly do need to address a lot of issues because I have to say their performance against Iceland in the Euros was the worst England display I have seen in my whole life.
“So I think the Football Association would be foolish not to appoint him.”
Ashurst, 77, played 458 times for the Rokermen from 1957-71 - no outfield player has played more games for Sunderland than the former defender - following that up with a long career in management, taking charge of the Black Cats in the 1984-85 season.
And he says all his experience is telling him that the current Sunderland boss could work wonders for England.
“I’ve seen another ex-Sunderland manager mentioned with Steve Bruce coming into the picture and I think he would do a good job too; Mark Hughes is another, though I can’t see him wanting the job,” he said.
“I feel the next manager should be English, or British at worst and I don’t think Steve or Mark would be a bad choice.
“But for me, Sam Allardyce is the obvious candidate to succeed Roy Hodgson.
“We have a lot of young players at England level who need clear direction and who need hammering into shape and Sam does that sort of thing as well as anyone.
“There are critics of his style but I think Sam has always been a very pragmatic manager who looks to get the very best out of the players at his disposal.
“The better the group of players at his disposal, the better football I think you will see played.
“I’m not banging the drum for him out of personal friendship - I don’t know Sam that well - but I can see what he would bring to the England job and I think he deserves his chance.
“He’s a physical presence in the dressing room, a leader to be respected and I’ve seen at other clubs and especially at Sunderland last season how he can transform the mindset of players who are struggling in terms of belief and confidence.”